Mac the Book…

There’s someone I’d like you to meet. I can thank my good buddies at tech support, faux-James and faux-Jordan, for her appearance in my life. If they hadn’t terrified me about another impending computer- pocalypse, I probably wouldn’t have spent the next week waking up in a cold sweat and running down two flights of stairs to check on Huey.

It was time to get a Mac.

So I’d like to introduce you to my birthday MacBook.*


I decided to use a name from my someday-daughters-list to name her, because St. Matt has issued a double-thumbs-down-veto on this one anyway.

So, meet Dulcinea.

St.Matt pronounces it: Dull-sin-neigh-ah
I say: Dull-sin-knee-ah
Both are correct.

We’ll call her Lucie for short.

And Lucie is fabulous! Besides being adorably decked out in a pink&green skin that I designed myself (I am far too proud about this), she WORKS!

Unlike Huey, Lucie will communicate with our wireless printer. I’ve been printing things Just Because. So… if you want some puggle pictures, let me know. Lucie also has a “SuperDrive.” On Huey it’s just a CD/DVD drive, but on Lucie, it’s SUPER.

Did I mention she comes with a remote control? I love remote controls! St.Matt’s first Mp3 player had one and I was ridiculously jealous. Never mind that he repeatedly pointed out mine was waterproof a much more practical feature, and that he didn’t need a remote because the Mp3 player was strapped to his arm. I still wanted one.

And Lucie has one! I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but still… I have one.

If I disappear into a cloud of Laptop-Love full of unicorns and rainbows, I know you’ll understand. (Yes, I’m quite sure that Lucie will be a new Distraction Fairy).

… Or maybe because I’m so infatuated with Lucie, my blog explode with posts…. Er, and they won’t all be about lame-o things like how I learned to print and my so-far-just-fun-to-look-at remote control.

Promise.

*Whenever I say MacBook, I want to sing Mack the Knife. Does this happen to everyone, or just me?

Lessons from the River – My FEARLESS Adventure

Fearless doesn’t mean without fear . Okay, technically it does, but for the purpose of Fearless Summer it means acknowledging that something is scary or difficult and then *gulp* doing it anyway.

What could be scarier or more challenging than ME on a 5-day Whitewater rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore in Colorado and Utah? (Admit it, you were a little scared when you saw the words Tiffany & Whitewater together).

But I DID IT!

Lessons Learned on the River:

2) What a groover is. If you don’t know, you probably don’t want to.

3) If you scream like horror-flick blonde, you will get made fun of around the campfire.

4) When things go wrong on the river, they go wrong fast and they go really wrong.

5) If you haven’t used your underwater camera in a year – check it before going shutterbuggy.

6) Braids are the ideal river hairstyle.

7) River trips have their own language.

8) Camping requires lots of STUFF

Don’t we look rather FEARLESS? Okay, really we just look amused…. but there was plenty of fearlessness occurring too. And it was, most definitely, an ADVENTURE!

Apply sunblock BEFORE you put on your Chacos

Like my stripe-y sunburn?

The shoes that caused it… (though mine are lighter pink)

photo credit

…Also, pedicures are no match for camping.

Return to Lessons from the River

2 ) I am not a camper.

I attempted it once when I was six and ended up in the hospital before it was time for s’mores – and that was the only reason I’d wanted to try it. That some people are just-not-meant-to-be-campers was brought home to me on this trip in some very real ways.*

For instance, while I had a great time practicing setting up the tent with J-bean in her front yard:

Yes, I am modeling my lifevest over a dress

I didn’t really think about the fact that when I had to sleep in it the next night, it would be out in the WILD and it would be dark. It’s a good thing St. Matt bought me a kid’s flashlight, complete with blinking lights (aka the ‘disco setting’) and a nightlight. I kept that on the whole first night.

Another thing that hadn’t occurred to me even once was where people went to the bathroom in the woods. I’m not a moron – I didn’t expect sparkling powder rooms with uniformed attendants – I just hadn’t thought about it at all. When J-bean told me about the groover, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.

Um, no. Letting her show me was all the experience I needed. Thank God, this was a shortish trip. Maybe next time I’ll think about it…

… then again, maybe not!

*This was also brought home to be post-trip, when everyone who asked me how the trip was, did so by saying *giggle* “How was camping, Tiffany?” *giggle* “Did you like it? I’m shocked you survived!” hrumph!!!

3) If you scream like horror-flick blonde, you will get made fun of around the campfire

In my defense, someone had seen a SNAKE in that general area the day before. And I heard a scary noise in the bushes behind me. The fact that it turned out to be a bird and not actually a man-eating serpent isn’t relevant.

Back to list of River Lessons

A True Test of FEARLESSNESS

By putting Fearless Summer out there in the universe, I knew I would be tested. I just didn’t know how MUCH I would be tested or what types of opportunities I’d be given to grow.

Tomorrow I leave for a Fearless Adventure – Five days of whitewater rafting in Utah and Colorado.

Less than 24 hours after I posted my original declaration of Fearless Summer my college roomie called. St. Matt and I already had plane tickets to go visit J-bean and her husband in New Mexico, but those plans were about to change.

“How’d you like to go rafting?” J-bean asked.
“Rafting?”
“You know, whitewater rafting.”

J-bean proceeded to tell me about how they’d been offered a last minute rafting pass to Gates of Lodore, a place that she and her husband had been wanting to go for years.

I had never considered going whitewater rafting before – it sounds scary and potentially deadly for someone as spaztastic as me. I looked over at St. Matt who was nodding so enthusiastically his head might detach. Taking a fearless breath, I said: “Um, sure. Tell me the details.”

The details include five days on the river in class 3-4 rapids. J-bean’s husband is guide certified, so they have all the gear and it’ll just be us in the raft.

J-bean sent us a list of stuff we’d need and we set about purchasing it.

EMS is a culture unto itself. I felt like I’d been transported to the world of Westerfeld’s Uglies – there were water purifiers and grippy shoes. I found myself looking around for hoverboards and interface rings.

They didn’t have these… but I did find the supplies I needed and all are in pink or green! (For once St. Matt approves of my color scheme because he thinks it’ll make me easier to spot if I wander off in the wilderness.) I even found waterproof notepads for my whitewater *fierce wonderings* and inspirations. They’re green. I bought two. I like buying camping stuff.

I’ve never camped before. When I was six, I was supposed to go camping with my cousins, but before I even got to spend the night in a tent, I managed to break my arm. Badly. Hold your arm up and flop your wrist – see how it creates a 90* angle? Mine did that 3 inches below the wrist joint.

So when I announced that I was go rafting – people worried. “Um, does J-bean know about your… um, tendency to get hurt?”

She does — my college experience wasn’t exactly mishap or ER-free — but conveniently both she and her husband are doctors.

If I fall out of the boat, I figure they’ll fish me out and plop me back in. If I get cut – they’ll stitch me back up.

And St. Matt has already double and triple checked that there’s a helmet with my name on it.

So while others may fret and worry and hug me extra tight before I leave – I’m not anxious. I’m not concerned. I’m FEARLESS.

So wish me luck and leave me messages for when I come back from my FEARLESS adventure – because I will come back, braver, stronger, tanner, and perhaps soggier! THIS is what Fearless Summer is all about!

*disclaimer* I AM concerned about being *gulp* technology-less for FIVE whole days. You won’t see me on twitter or my blog because Gilbert, Petunia and Huey are all going to be left behind where it’s safe and dry!

Mickey Mischief

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but the last time I went to Disney World I was a toxic visitor.

I was 7. The trip was my First Holy Communion present – or just conveniently timed so the two events are linked in my mind. My memories of the religious ceremony are hazy – fever hazy – a white dress with a pink sash, a flower wreath settled on foam-curler ringlets, a honey ham, all my relatives.

I didn’t feel well. I didn’t want honey ham or jello mold or even dinner mints I’d have to sneak off the tray. I tried telling my mom – but she was busy changing a diaper or taking lemon squares out of the oven. Dad was talking and making drinks – he told me to run along and play.

I stumbled along and played, but without my usual impish vigor. After all the guests left I collapsed – pretty dress, curled hair, flower wreath and all – on the kitchen floor.

Chicken pox!

But we already had the trip planned – non-refundable flights, vacations forms completed and homework collected, park tickets. So I went to Disney and spread love and germs on Small World. My spots were natural camouflage on the Jungle Cruise

This trip I wasn’t contagious. It was quick; a last minute surprise getaway from St. Matt for our 5th Anniversary.* On the 4th of July St. Matt wanted to get to the park early and stay late to see the fireworks. Since we both know that I was not going to be able to handle 14 hours of straight ride-riding, it was a given I’d pack a book.

But which? I’d packed four different paper volumes and loaded a bunch onto Gilbert in preparation for the trip. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I brought three: Tenth Grade Bleeds, Eyes Like Stars and Prophesy of the Sisters.

As we ferried over to the Magic Kingdom at 8:00 AM, I had a brainstorm. No, an inspiration. I had three great books by three fabulous authors, I was going to the most magical place in the world…. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!**

It was like a reverse scavenger hunt. Instead of finding the books, I was finding fun places to photograph them. I scrambled all over the park feeling gleeful and mischievous. We got a few curious looks, but no one stopped or questioned us.

Of course, there was also ride-riding and confection eating and even some pausing to do some actual reading.

And there were fireworks too!

The only downside of the whole day was:

But this just means we’ll have to come back again soon.

*Have I mentioned lately that I have the BEST husband ever?
**St. Matt balked for all of 3 seconds, but I threatened him with the Tiki Room if he didn’t participate.

St. Matt’s School Visit

St. Matt came to school with me on Friday. It was the kiddos’ last day and emotions were running high as limits were being tested.

St. Matt’s come to school with me once before; he chaperoned a field trip to the Franklin Institute with last year’s Angel Class. I assigned him the most cooperative girls of the Angel Class and he spent the day supervising conversations like this:

Kiddo 1: “Mr. Schmidt, can we please go to the human body exhibit?”
St. Matt: “Is that what everyone wants to do?”
Kiddo 2: “I wanted to see sports exhibit – let’s see yours first and then mine if there’s time.”
Kiddo 3: “Sounds like a great plan!”

At the end of the day he gave me a smug, skeptical look. “This is supposed to be hard? They compromised, group hugged and smiled the whole day. I didn’t have to do anything but hold a sweatshirt while they went in the bathroom.”

I rolled my eyes and bided my time. A year later he was back at school – and this year’s class is Team Tiara, just as wonderful but not a smidgen angelic. The kiddos quickly obtained St. Matt’s permission to call him by his first name and took full advantage of smirking and asking things like: “Mrs. Schmidt or Maa-att, would it be okay if I ran this card down to the art teacher?” Matt, I still have a clipboard in my cubby, where should I put it?”

Each “Matt” was accompanied by a giggle or mischievous grin – infectious and irresistible.

The kiddos had a half-day – mostly consumed by their farewell breakfast and yearbook signing – during which St. Matt was a hot commodity. The whole sixth grade packed the cafeteria with their yearbooks and Sharpies and swapped signatures. Few outside of my homeroom knew who St. Matt was, but that didn’t stop the students from demanding his autograph – some bypassed me to get to him. One kiddo went up to her teacher and reported, “Mrs. Schmidt’s husband looks really young…. He’s cute.That explains the number of giggling girls and glitter pens waiting for him – can’t say I blame them!

The last hour of the day was for the Schmidties. Our final class meeting. There were tears, laughs, and lots of “do you remember when….” There were reflections: “Can you believe we’re going to be the youngest in the school again?” And a smiling, “Matt, you’re much quieter than Mrs. Schmidt.”

“We balance each other out,” was St.Matt’s diplomatic reply.
Mine was more candid: “I bring the crazy; he brings the normal.”
The kiddos all nodded, sagely and immediately accepting this as true.

There was time for one last enthusiastic singing of “Don’t Stop Believing” and the dismissal announcements came on.

The kiddos’ faces vacillated between summer-excitement and farewell-panic. Hugs were given, received, given again and a few kiddos were gently pushed out of the classroom so they wouldn’t miss their busses.

The door shut behind the last kiddo and I turned to face St. Matt – sitting at my desk with his chin in his hand. “I’m exhausted.”

I nodded and looked around the classroom. It needed to be packed away and I’d barely started. I’d tried taking down posters earlier in a week but a kiddo had protested: “It’s so sad to see our classroom not look like our classroom anymore.” So I’d stopped.

Now I’d run out of excuses and there were only three hours until the faculty party. St. Matt’s engineering nature assessed the state of my cabinets and began to remove items and reorganize them in space-efficient manners.

My non-engineering nature sat down opened presents and re-read the cards my kiddos had given me. Then I responded to e-mails from parents –including a piece of fan mail about St. Matt: “My son so enjoyed meeting your husband. It just made his day.”

St. Matt called me over and asked me to look through a pile and identify what should be saved and what could be tossed. I told him the story of every item in the pile as he reorganized my supply cabinet and uh-huh’d.

The day proceeded in this manner:

Me: “Oh, look at this…” Flitting from project to project.
St. Matt: pragmatic, organized, efficient. “Tiffany, could you please…”

Finally, at five o’clock – now two hours late for the party, St. Matt decided, “You have 15 minutes. Anything that’s not in a cabinet in 15 minutes, we’re throwing away.”
“Okay, let me just pick a song.”
“15 minutes.”
“Well, we need the right song.”

I settled on Warren G’s “Regulators” and got to work. 13 minutes later I was shutting off the lights and shutting the door to room 202, precariously balancing bags of books, gifts from kiddos, the classroom plants and our one surviving fish, Yumberry.

We loaded the car, and St. Matt slumped behind the wheel with tired eyes. I reached over and poked him, “Hey! Guess what? It’s SUMMER! Ready for the party?”

“I’m ready for a nap.”

Lesson’s learned my last day of school:
St. Matt’s cute (well, duh!)
St. Matt’s quieter than me (I knew this already!)
St. Matt’s patient (knew this too)
He’s a better packer (so? I’m a better pack-rat)
And he’s a big WIMP if one 1/2 day with the kiddos tired him out!

Blithe thoughts… & Blythe names?

Sitting beside me right now is something spectacular; I can’t stop petting it. It’s the best Summer Present from the best husband ever: a Sony E-book Reader. But it needs a name. I need your help!

I’ve been wanting one of these for ages, but the moment it became essential was when my colleague, Mr. Techie, let me borrow his (link to zombie blog). As soon as I flicked the power switch, it was too late. I’d been infected with I-need-an-ebook-syndrome. INAEBS has many symptoms, they include envy, whining, and hours spent researching different brands.

The cure to INAEBS would also cure me of another dangerous ailment: I-need-a-certain-book-NOW virus . Where now is 2 AM and the bookstore doesn’t open until 9:30.

I pointed this out to St. Matt: “Think how much happier I’d be if as soon as I finished one book, I could download the next.”
To which he responded, “You’d never sleep again.”
“But, but…” I had no argument. He had a point.

This week he suddenly relented. I called during recess, sang him a silly made-up ebook reader song, and e-mailed him a coupon Mr. Techie had found me. St. Matt responded with: “It’ll be there when you get home tonight.”

Wait! What?

Only the store was sold out so I had to wait until today when we went and picked it up together. And now I’m happy and can’t stop patting it.

I think my song did him in. Or my winning argument was pointing out we have TWO vacations planned for this summer and reminding him that no matter how many books I pack, I always run out mid-trip. “Do you remember our honeymoon and how hard it was to hunt down an bookstore in Sicily that had books in English?”

(Not that I expect this to be a problem in New Mexico or Canada, but it made my point).

Now that it’s charging next to me, there are some vital things I need to do:

1) Pick out a case. I’m thinking something pink & green.
2) Download the software & read the manual
3) Pick out my first books
4) NAME IT!

The Sony seems male to me, so I’ve been compiling boys’ names: Fergus, Gustav, Nemoy…

So far my favorite is Gilbert. As in Gilbert Blythe, because:

A) He’s awesome and put up with A LOT from Anne (he kinda reminds me of St. Matt).
B) I’m going back to P.E.I. in August. The drive to get there is so long
that half the car would need be packed with books to keep me occupied. It was either get me an ebook reader or leave St. Matt’s golf clubs behind.

Have fun on the links, Love. I’ll be curled up with [name of new ebook reader to be finalized] and I’ll see you when you get home.

So Gilbert’s the front runner. Do you approve? Any ideas on where to get #1 or what I should choose for #3?

*pets possibly-Gilbert lovingly*

Write the Rainbow…

I have a tendency to develop little routines. You could call them traditions – St. Matt calls them obsessions. But they’re just little habits that help me get stuff done.

For instance, I’ve listened to DMB’s “Dancing Nancies” on the first day of school for the past 13 years (since my sophomore year in HS). Before I serve in tennis, I have to bounce a few times in place – not the ball, mind you, I bounce me. Every night before I go to bed I have to check that the closet door is shut so I don’t get sucked into another dimension, Poltergeist-style.

Completely normal little routines.

With writing I have many of these. My latest one is Revision-Skittles. I’m not sure when it switched from being that’s-fun to that’s-necessary, but at some point between January and now I started the habit of allowing myself one Skittles Core per page revised.

Skittles really are the perfect candy for revision –besides being made of rainbows, creativity and inspiration – they’re small. Individually they don’t pack much of a calorie wallop, and if I ate enough to have a detrimental affect on my sugar-level, my worry was overshadowed by the thrill of knowing I’d had an excellent revision day. Plus, Revision-Skittle sugar-high carried me through a couple of extended elliptical hours.

Somewhere along the line Bruschi became a Revision-Skittle addict too, and now he will gladly curl up next to me during late-night revision sessions and wait semi-patiently for his loyalty to be rewarded with a circular piece of sugary goodness. And if I’m taking too long with any individual page, he’ll let me know this with a wet nose to my calf or an impatient paw on my arm.

Last week I finished up my second pass on my WIP (currently titled TBALMCSAP, but I seriously need to come up with something better soon). In a minor revision-miracle, not quite as impressive as Chanukah’s 8-days of light, my last bag of Skittles lasted to the final page of TBALMCSAP. I ate the last one as I pressed *SEND* on the e-mail to my first reader & did a happy dance. Tra-la-la!

After church today we stopped at Wegmans to do our weekly shopping. I smiled through the Wonka-esque candy aisle and skipped over to the shelf where Revision-Skittles wait for happy lil’ people like me.

It was empty.

Panic didn’t set in immediately, but it didn’t take longer than 5 minutes either. There are many other revision passes that will need to be made on TBALMCSAP! What about the WIP I began outlining last night. I WILL need to revise again. Soon. The rainbowful flavors began to fade from my memory, my head began to spin…

Before we were even home from Wegmans I was Googling the number for other supermarkets and calling out the digits to an indulgent St. Matt.

As I whimpered, “What if they’ve stopped making them?” He patted my leg and tapped the numbers on his keypad.

“Hello, I was wondering if you had Revision-Skittles in stock?”

Panic = Gone!
Laughter = Extreme!

As I giggled and tee-hee’d St. Matt shot me you’re-in-trouble-looks, corrected himself and managed to ascertain that Giant did stock Skittles Cores but only in large bags. “Oh, that won’t be a problem. Thanks so much.”

So now I’m stocked up. I’m good to go. And someone just sent me something awesome to revise… I don’t know who’s more excited, me or Bruschi!
© Copyright Tiffany Schmidt - Designed by Pexeto